The five places that changed me: Dale Barltrop



Having lived in the US for 11 years, when I moved to Vancouver, I instantly felt at home. More than anything, I love the spirit of this city – the cultural diversity, the openness of its people, the focus on sustainability and environmental awareness, the incredible food scene and the strong presence and acknowledgement of its First Nations history. I also happened to meet the love of my life there and landed a dream job (as concertmaster of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra).


Amsterdam was the first European city I visited and performed in. I was 20, on tour with the Australian Youth Orchestra and was swept away by the history, culture and energy. The experience of performing in the Concertgebouw remains one of my career highlights – seeing the names of the great composers etched into the walls.


I spent four glorious summers here in my early 20s. A formative experience was attending the Tanglewood Music Festival, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the meeting place for some of the world's greatest classical musicians. The festival grounds sit on 529 acres of stunning gardens and lawns, providing the most magical outdoor setting for concerts.


My visit to Dubrovnik coincided with my 30th birthday – on tour with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, we spent several days soaking up the Mediterranean sun, floating in the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic and exploring the nooks and crannies of this fascinating medieval city. Steeped in history and conflict, Dubrovnik is a testament to the resilience of a civilisation that has rebounded time and again from the brink of devastation. My colleagues were quick to discover some of its (not so) hidden secrets, like the bar that is perched on the cliffs outside of the wall, from which one can dive into the water or enjoy a moonlit nightcap.


Having grown up in Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast was a regular holiday destination for my family. I think I took for granted having easy access to beautiful, white sandy beaches and incredible surf. After many years living abroad and travelling to some amazing places, coming home to the beaches of my childhood is something I yearn for and cherish. My partner and I have fallen in love with Coolum, where a stroll along the beach reminds me why I'm so lucky to call Australia home.

Dale Barltrop made his solo debut with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra at age 15. He is a concertmaster with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and joined the Australian String Quartet as their first violinist in 2016. Australian String Quartet National Tour 2: Beethoven Widmann Beethoven runs June 26-July 9. See